Congress rebuffs Bush on Voc. Ed. overhaul

The House on Saturday approved and sent to President Bush an update of the nation’s vocational education law, rebuffing White House attempts to overhaul it.

Known as the Perkins Act, the law steers $1.3 billion a year into career-based courses in high schools and community colleges. The move by Congress would extend the law through 2012.

The House voted 399-1 to pass the bill. The Senate did the same Wednesday night. Lawmakers reached a deal on the bill last week, capping more than a year of negotiations.

The dominant theme of the bill _ the first such update since 1998 _ is rigor and results.

It requires states to run career programs that will give students a broad base of academic skills, not just technical ones. In exchange for money, states and school districts must produce more evidence that students are making progress and landing good jobs.

The legislation would require states to come up with model sequences of courses from high school through college. The goal is to give students a clear path of training for work.

Bush plans to sign the bill, White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said.

She said Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has worked with Congress to strengthen the ways schools are held accountable for results.

The White House has called the vocational programs ineffective and sought to end them.

The president wants to shift the money into a new effort of expanded high school testing and help for struggling learners. States could still spend the money on career courses if they wanted under his plan. But Congress has never seriously considered the changes Bush wants.


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